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the natural termination of the human course. Amidst multiplying infirmities, to prolong life beyond its usual bounds, and to draw out your existence here to the last and foulest dregs, ought not to be the wish of any wise man. Is it desirable to continue lingering on the borders of the grave, after every tie which connects you with life is broken ; and to be left a solitary individual, in the midst of a new generation, whose faces you hardly know? The shades of your departed friends rise up before you, and warn you, that it is time to depart. Nature and Providence summon you, to be gathered to your fathers. Reason admo, nishes you, that, as your predecessors made way for you, it is just that you should yield your place to those who have arisen to succeed you on this busy stage; who, for a while, shall fill it with their actions and their sufferings, their virtues and their crimes; and then shall, in their turn, withdraw, and be joined to the forgotten multitudes of former ages.
Could death, indeed, be considered in no other view than as the close of life, it would afford only a melancholy retreat. The total extinction of being, is a thought, which human nature, in its most distressed circumstances, cannot bear without dejection. But, blessed be God ! far other prospects revive the spirits of the aged, who have spent their life in piety and virtue. To them, death is not the extinction, but the renovation of the living principle; its removal from the earthly house of this tabernacle, to the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Having fought the good fight; having finished their course, and kept the faith ; there is laid up for them the crown of righteousness. The Saviour of the world hath not only brought immortality to light, but placed it within the reach of their hope and trust. By making atonement for their guilt, he hath prepared their way within the veil; and secured to them the possession of an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in the heavens. Such are the hopes and prospects which cheer the sorrows of old age, and surmount the fear of death. Faith and piety are the only adequate supports of human nature in all its great emergencies. After they have guided us through the various trials of life, they uphold us, at last, amidst the ruins of this falling frame; and when the silver cord is just ready to be loosed, and the golden bovel to be broken ; when the pitcher is broken at the fountain ; and the wheel broken at the cistern; they enable us to say, O Death! where is thy sting? O Grave! where is thy victory?
ON THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE
Genesis, xlii. 21, 22.
And they said one to another, We are verily
guilty concerning our brother, in that we san the anguish of his soul, when he besought us ; and we would not hear : Therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore behold also his blood is required.
This book of Genesis displays a more singular and interesting scene, than was ever presented to the world by any other historical record. It carries us back to the beginning of time, and exhibits mankind in their infant and rising state. It shows us human manners in their primitive simplicity, before the arts of refinement had polished the behaviour, or disguised the characters of men; when they gave vent to their passions without dissimulation and spoke their sentiments without reserve. Few great societies were, as yet, formed on the earth. Men lived in separate tribes. The transactions of families made the chief materials of history; and they are related in this book, with that beautiful simplicity, which, in the highest degree, both delights the imagination, and affects the heart.
Of all the patriarchal histories, that of Joseph and his brethren is the most remarkable, for the characters of the actors, the instructive nature of the events, and the surprising revolutions of worldly fortune. As far as relates to the Text, and is necessary for explaining it, the story is to the following purpose :
Joseph, the youngest, except one, of the sons of Jacob, was distinguished by, his father with such marks of peculiar affection, as excited the envy of his brethren. Having related to them, in the openness of his heart, certain dreams which portended his future advancement above them, their jealousy rose to such a height, that they unnaturally conspired his destruction. Seizing the opportunity of his being at a distance from home, they
first threw him into a pit, and afterwards sold him for a slave; imposing on their father by a false relation of his death. When they had thus gratified their resentment, they lost all remembrance of their crime. The family of Jacob was rich and powerful ; and several years passed away, during which they lived in prosperity; without being touched, as far as appears, with the least remorse for the cruel deed which they had committed.
Meanwhile, Joseph was safely conducted, by the hand of Providence, through a variety of dangers, until, from the lowest condition, he rose at last to be chief favourite of the King of Egypt, the most powerful monarch at that time in the world. While he possessed this high dignity, a general famine distressed all the neighbouring countries. In Egypt alone, by means of his foresight and prudent administration, plenty still reigned. Compelled to have recourse to that kingdom for supply of food, the brethren of Joseph, upon this occasion, appeared in his presence, and made their humble application to him, for liberty to purchase corn ; little suspecting the Governor of the land, before whom they bowed down their faces to the earth, to be him, whom, long ago, they had sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites. But Joseph no sooner saw, than he knew his